Soils of Himachal Pradesh

Soil Fertility Map of Himachal Pradesh/Source: CSK HP Agricultural University
Based on the development and physico-chemical properties of the soils, the soils of Himachal Pradesh can be broadly divided into nine groups and these are

Alluvial soils
These soils are found in Una, Indora of Kangra district and Poanta Sahib of Sirmaur district, regions where floodplain is a dominant physiography. These are generally coarse textured comprising loamy sand and sandy loam and occasionally loam to sandy clay loam. These are low in organic matter and neutral (pH >6.5) in reaction. These are also calcareous in nature with calcium carbonate content varying from 2.0 to 4.5 per cent.

Alpine Humus Mountain Skeletal Soils
These soils are mostly found in the Himalayan highlands comprising the districts of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi tehsil of Chamba. These areas are characterized by the low precipitation and frigid temperature. Their texture varies from gravelly loamy sand to loam. They are usually high in organic matter and neutral in reaction. These soils have medium to high phosphorus and potassium content.

Brown Forest soils
These soils are generally found in forest heavy regions of Chamba districts. These soils are sandy loam to clay loam in texture and slightly acidic to neutral in reaction. These soils also have moderately deep to deep solum.

Brown hill soils
These are sandy loam to clay loam textured soils found in the area of Nahan (Sirmaur district) and Solan (Solan district). These soils are medium to high in organic matter and neutral to slightly acidic in reaction.

Non-Calcic Brown soils
These soils are found in parts of Hamirpur, Bilaspur and Mandi districts in addition to Dehra Gopipur of Kangra district. These soils are neutral to slightly acidic in reaction. Their texture varies from loamy sand to clay loam and their organic matter content varies from low to medium.

Brown Podzolic Soils
Also known as Grey Wooded soils, these soils are generally found in parts of Shimla and Kullu districts and Karsog area of Mandi district. They soils are characterized by their dark colours and contains high organic matter. These are slightly to strongly acidic in reaction and their textures varies from sandy loam to clay loam.

Grey Brown Podzolic soils
These soils are the result of podzolization and found in parts of Kangra and Jogindernagar of Mandi. These soils are acidic in reaction. and have heavy texture from clay loam to silt loam and silty clay.

Humus and Iron Podzols
These soils confined to the parts of Shimla, Dalhousie and Manali. These soils have dark coloured and have very high organic matter. These soils are also acidic in reaction and their colour varies from reddish brown to yellowish brown. These soils are high in iron and aluminum content.

Planosolic Soils
These are imperfectly drained soils found in Balh valley of Mandi, Ghumarwin town of Bilaspur, Nagwain area of Kullu and Saproon valley of Solan. These soils are medium to fine textured and neutral in reaction. These soils have medium to high organic with adequate amount of phosphorus and potassium content.

Soil Fertility Status of Himachal Pradesh

The quality of soil cannot be judged by its texture. To learn about the soil fertility status of the soil, we need to learn about the nutrient content of the soil. These nutrients can be classified as macro and micro nutrients. Knowing these nutrient levels in soil, not only help in accessing our soils for agriculture, but also use of fertilizers and other products.

Macro Nutrients (NPK)
The analysis of macro-nutrients in the soils of Himachal Pradesh can be summarized as
1. Soils of Una and Hamirpur are low in nitrogen content.
2. Soils of Kangra, Bilaspur, Shimla and Sirmaur are medium in nitrogen content.
3. Soils of Kangra, Una and Shimla are low in phosphorus content.
4. Soils of Hamirpur, Solan, Kinnaur, Kullu, Mandi and Sirmaur are medium in phosphorus content.

Micro-content (Zinc, Calcium, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Iron and so on)
The analysis of micro-nutrients in the soils of Himachal Pradesh can be summarized as
1. Zinc deficiency is found in parts of Nurpur, Jahu, Palam Valley, Chotta Bengal, Kullu and Jwalamukhi.
2. Copper content in soil across the state is medium. However, other micro-content such as zinc, manganese, iron are in sufficent amount.

Soil Testing Programme
Except Lahaul-Spiti, the Government of Himachal Pradesh has set up soil testing laboratories in each district of the state. They have released a numerous Soil Health Cards to farmers who want to know about the soil status and nutrient requirement in their fields.